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United States v. Humphrey

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 5, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Bruce Edward Humphrey, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted January 17, 2014.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Allison Hart Behrens, Assistant U.S. Attorney, John Timothy Bird, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Thomas Joseph Mehan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Eastern District of Missouri, Saint Louis, MO.

For Bruce Edward Humphrey, Defendant - Appellant: Eric Christian Bohnet, Indianapolis, IN.

Bruce Edward Humphrey, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Salters, SC.

Before LOKEN, MURPHY, and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 814

LOKEN, Circuit Judge.

Police found a handgun and cocaine base in Bruce Humphrey's car. A jury convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The district court applied a four-level enhancement for possession of the firearm in connection with a felony drug offense, see U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(6)(B), and sentenced Humphrey to 92 months in prison, the bottom of his advisory guidelines range. Humphrey appeals, arguing the district court[1] erred when it denied his pretrial motion to suppress; denied his motion to continue the trial until an important defense witness returned to town; applied the four-level

Page 815

enhancement; and imposed an unconstitutional sentence. Having jurisdiction over the appeal, we affirm.

I. The Suppression Issue

After an evidentiary hearing, Magistrate Judge Baker made the following findings, later adopted by the district court and not disputed on appeal. In August 2011, St. Louis police began investigating a burglary and gunfire at an apartment apparently rented by Humphrey, followed by a homicide in which Humphrey was arrested as a suspect and then released, and by reports the homicide victim's associates had put out a " hit" on Humphrey. On February 29, 2012, Detective Curtis Burgdorf, assigned to gather intelligence on Humphrey, saw Humphrey's 1994 purple Lexus and asked other detectives, including Detective Nicholas Martorano, for help in conducting covert surveillance of the car. Driving three unmarked vehicles, detectives followed Humphrey's car as it stopped at a school, where they saw its occupants were two women and a child. The occupants then traveled to a residence, parked the car, and went inside. After a few minutes, a man the police recognized as Humphrey came out of the home and drove away. The detectives followed.

Burgdorf observed Humphrey pull into a parking lot near a bank. Martorano, whose car had been slowed by traffic, entered the lot from a different direction. The two cars soon faced each other at a four-way stop in the parking lot. Martorano turned left in front of Humphrey and drove to the back of the bank. Burgdorf saw Humphrey drive through the intersection, as if to leave the lot, then turn abruptly and stop in front of the bank building. Concluding that Humphrey realized he was being followed, Burgdorf called off the surveillance, telling Martorano to disengage. ...


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